DE{CODE}: Debunking The Myths of Migration

Migrations—especially at scale—can be a major pain, but WP Engine has the tools you need to make migrations painless.

In this DE{CODE} session, learn more about the benefits of WordPress standardization from WP Engine Onboarding Manager Michael Clayton, who walks through a site migration to WP Engine and debunks common myths surrounding site migrations.

Video: Debunking The Myths of Migration

Session Slides

Full Text Transcript

MICHAEL CLAYTON: Hello, and thank you for joining us for DE{CODE} 2022. My name is Michael Clayton. I’m an Onboarding Manager with WP Engine, and my job is to make sure that your first days with WP Engine are fantastic. And what I’ll be discussing today is the myths of migrating your site between platforms, and debunking some of the nastier myths that come along with it. So welcome aboard, and let’s get into it. 

So let’s be honest, you can have the worst living arrangement possible and then suddenly come into your dream house. Everything is just the way you wanted. The rooms, the layout, open concept is beautiful except, you have to move, which means you have to pack and do all the things that come along with moving. And if we’re being real, 99% of the time, moving is a pain. 

And I can understand how that’s threatening, but I can assure you that WP Engine provides the 1% where moving is not trash. And those are official statistics. So why is moving such a chore? Well, if we look at the entire process, you have to– take a look around you. Take a look at all the stuff that’s currently in your house, and how you would have to organize, pack, get packing materials, and get expenses, putting together boxes just to put stuff in those boxes, to have to lift. 

And they get heavy, and you have so many trip hazards, and working through delicate items. And that’s not even including the large bits of furniture that you have to have; your grandma’s antique curio, and all of this other stuff. You have to probably get some help, so you’re going to end up paying somebody, or bringing in your friends and bribing them with pizza and beverages just to hope that they don’t just throw your stuff all over the place. 

You have to get transportation; renting a vehicle, loading up the vehicle, probably making two or more trips along the way. More heavy lifting. You have to unload everything. You have to unpack everything, figure out where it goes. How many of us have moved and left boxes just sitting in the corner forever just because you don’t want to have to deal with it? 

Or, you could go completely hands-off, and not do a thing and pay someone else to do it, but that’s an expensive task. And if you don’t pay enough, you’re probably going to get someone that doesn’t care about your property. If you do pay more, then your wallet’s going to hurt, so what can we possibly do about this to make this entire process a bit better? 

Because if we think about this, it completely relates to moving your website. You have to worry about having the right access, you have to worry about grabbing all of the bits of your database, doing the export properly, getting all of the files that were needed, zipping it up, getting an SFTP client to move everything from one place to the other, unpacking, just like with your real home. 

You have to put everything back in the right place that the website expects it to be, put the database– import it back in place, and hope everything works out, right. And if it doesn’t, then you’re digging into the waste, trying to troubleshoot everything. So with all of that in mind, it sounds like an absolute nightmare, but with WP Engine, we’ve gone out of our way to make sure that this process is the easiest thing that you will ever do. 

And it is designed in such a way that whether you are a WordPress novice, or a WordPress pro, you can get it done and you can get it done with ease. So let’s dig into how this actually is made easy. We’ve created, what we call a WP Engine Automated Migration Plugin, and if you know how to install a plugin, you know how to migrate your website. It’s simply that easy. 

And that doesn’t necessarily just appeal to people that aren’t as good in doing all the inner workings of WordPress, but even if you are an absolute WordPress pro, this is more time freed up for you to focus on other things. The last thing you want to have to do is– you’ve got a laundry list of items to take care of, and you don’t want to have to sit-in front of a computer and just watch things process, and hope things work out, and sweating bullets while it goes through. 

You can literally just click a few buttons. Let us do the work and take care of all of the other things that are more important here today. So this plugin will do all of the packing. It does all of the organization. It establishes a secure connection to transport all of this data from your previous host to us. And it’s free. Free 99 is always great. 

So let’s talk about some of the advantages that this plug-in provides, and it sounds on the surface like it’s obvious, but let’s break it down for you. This plug-in can migrate multiple sites at the same time. So you don’t have to do one, click the button, wait, start another, click the button, wait. And if you’re doing this yourself manually, chances are you’re multitasking abilities aren’t that great where you can have four or five sites migrating and zipping and packing, and not getting data mixed up. 

This plugin will do that all for you. So if you’ve got several sites, no worries. You can still do that in an instant. It is compatible and approved for over 5,000 existing hosts out there, so chances are as long as your site is publicly facing, no matter who your site is currently with, our plug-in will work to get it over to WP Engine. It is, as I mentioned, suited for experts and novices alike, and works with multi-sites. So if you have a multi-site network, it will bring that over. 

Now, I will point out, it is for the entire multi-site network. So no, it is not designed for you to install it just for a sub-site to migrate the sub-site over. That will take a little more work. Not quite there yet. The migration plugin has little to no impact on your live site and its performance and resources. 

There are a number of plug-ins out there that may do migrations, but they’re a little bloated, will bonk things down, and may have notable impact on how your lifestyle is behaving. Not with our plug-in. It’s quiet, it’s efficient, and it does the job without anyone being the wiser. There is no need with this plug-in to have to go through server permissions, making sure you have proper server access, setting up SFTP clients, going through the weeds. 

And just to get started, this plug-in takes all of that out of the equation and just does all the work for you, in that regard. It also, while being simple and effective, still gives you the granular-level access that you need to do advanced things. So for example, if your site has non-standard file structures off of Route, and everything isn’t in a normal setup where it will be under WP-content folder for a lot of your assets. 

This plugin will give you the option to select those to come along for the ride, just in case your site is different than the norm. Same for your database. It will also provide you the option to bring in non-standard database tables that might not normally come along with WordPress. So even if you’ve got a highly customized website, this plugin is still going to do the trick for you. And with the plug-in, again, you set it, and you can walk away. 

It will send you a notification once it’s all done. If you do want to check in, it has a handy progress bar so you’ll have a good idea of how long it’s taking. The amount of time that the migration could take can vary per site, depending on the number of files, total size of files, and total number of database tables and rows. So with that in mind, we make it easy for you to share this, as well. 

So once you have this progress link, you can share it with your entire team. So that everybody can have a quick view of how things are going, and you’ll know as soon as it is ready to go. So with that in mind, I would think that this sounds fantastic, but nothing beats seeing it in action. So let’s go ahead and take a look at a live demonstration of exactly how this migration plugin works. 

So as you can see, you will only need to start with two windows for this migration plug-in. On the right, you’ll have the WP Engine User Portal, and on the left, the site that we will be migrating, which is one of my play sites, Now, I apologize for our dev friends and for our Linux fans, and our bash friends, catgrep probably made you crazy. That was on purpose. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it. Everything’s fine. 

So with that in mind, let’s go ahead and get started. So on the left, we’re going to go ahead and log into the dashboard for that site, and on the right, we’ll go ahead and go to the environment that we’re going to migrate this to, which is aptly named cat growth. That’s going to be our production environment that we use to bring the site in. 

Now a couple of things you’ll need to do. Well, first we’re going to go to the site migration section for this environment, as you can see highlighted there. That’ll take you to all of the information that you need to get started, and there’s a handy video to walk you through if you need some further assistance. 

A couple of ways you can install our plug-in is right where we’re selected. You can click that to download the plug-in and manually install it, uploading it to the dashboard. Or within the WordPress dashboard itself, you can just go to the plugins section, click on Add New, and in the search bar, just search for WP Engine. Once you search for WP Engine, usually the first or second option is going to be our WP Engine Automated Migration plug-in. Right there. 

So just click on Install. That will go ahead and install the plugin, and once it’s installed, click Activate. Now normally it’ll take you directly to the Settings screen, but since I’ve already used this, I’ll just have to go to the plugin section and click on Settings. That’ll take us to this page. I’ll put in my email address that I’m using for my WP Engine account, and that will get us started. 

Once that processes, you’ll see a screen that looks similar to what we see on the right, where it’s going to ask us for the information to connect and start moving data. So all we have to do from here is copy and paste. So from the User Portal, you’ll see the same four fields. 

Now to fill in the last two, just click the button right below to generate your SFTP credentials. Once those credentials have been created, you’ll see them pop in to the two lower fields. Just like that. And you got an easy button here to copy and paste, so I’ll just hit the button to copy, paste it over to the plug-in. Lather, rinse, and repeat. 

So this is how the plug-in takes care of the SFTP connection. This is how it creates that secure connection to get data from point A to point B. And you will be all set. Now as we copy and paste this, you’ll notice right below the two options that I mentioned earlier that will allow you to add additional files that are non-standard. So if you’ve got additional folders on Route, here’s where you’ll be able to select those to make sure those come along for the ride. 

And so you would just select the ones that you need or select them all. Or take some away, if need be. Same for the database, right below that. Once you click that option, it’s going to look at your current database, identifying anything that’s non-standard, and give you the option to select those tables, as well. 

So this ensures that no matter how your site is configured, you’re going to have the options needed to make sure that everything gets moved over correctly the first time. So with all of that said, if your site is password protected with Basic Off, you would enable these options that you see highlighted here and provide those credentials. If not, just leave it set to no, and that is all that’s needed. 

Once you click the Go button, it starts to work, and you can go make a sandwich. You can go have lunch with your friends, you can go take care of a more pressing task, and this will do all the work. Initially, you’ll see the screen that will start to just do its initial checks, make sure all the credentials are checked out, and that’s it. Now I’m going to warn you, this particular demonstration is going to go a little quicker because I’ve done this one before. 

But again. It’s going to vary depending on size, database, and number of files. The migration is designed to be done twice. This way, the first time, you can migrate using the demo URL that you see as the first option that we copied. That way when the migration is done, you can kick the tires, check out the functionality, make sure that everything is looking and behaving just as it should. 

When you do your second migration, and this is recommended to do just in case there were changes made to the site from the time that you did the first migration, and this is especially important if you’ve got an eCommerce site, membership site, anything that is highly dynamic or subject to change minute to minute, we recommend putting up a maintenance mode page. Pardon me. 

Putting up a maintenance mode page that will allow you to say, hey, the site is under construction right now. We’re working on things. Please come back later. That way, you don’t have to worry about data being lost during the second migration, if it is a highly dynamic page. 

So once the migration is done, you’ll see this completion notice here. But this page does a great job of keeping you abreast of what is happening. So, how far along is it, is it still working on files, is it still moving database tables, is it actually taking all the stuff that is collected and moved over to WP Engine. It’s very intuitive, and yet at the same time, not very complex, so you can just say, OK, quick glance, I see we’ve made progress. I’m going to go work on something else and come back. 

So once the migration is done, you will get an email notification, as well as, a notification on this page you are viewing. And that is literally it. At this point, the migration is done, you can go ahead and preview the site by clicking on the blue button. And just check it out, make sure everything is working. 

If something looks amiss, you’ve got our 24/7 support team that would be able to help out and just check, and whatever the issue may be, we can help you to sort it out. And, that’s our migration. It’s literally that easy. A few clicks, some copying and pasting, and no worries from there. 

So with that in hand, and we know how the migration now works, what if we have a completely different scenario to consider. You might have a highly specialized site that you, just even knowing how well this plugin works, just want to make sure that extra steps are taken to make sure that migration happens properly. Or your situation just may not be in tune with doing this. So we do have other options. 

We’ve got you covered. We’re not going to leave you hanging. First and foremost, we have our manual migration guide that will show you every single step of a manual process, from exporting your database, gathering your files and zipping them. And with screenshots, because generally speaking, most existing hosts will have this similar type of access with tools such as PhpMyAdmin, SSH, or SFTP that you can get these steps done. 

So we provide a guide that shows you step by step how to make it happen, and once you’ve got that content gathered from your site, it’s just a matter of uploading it to us through the User Portal. As soon as that upload takes place, our support team is notified, and they get right on it, doing the unpacking for you, putting the database in place, putting the files where they need to be, and checking things out just to make sure everything is as it should be. 

If something is amiss, they will let you know and work with you to get it corrected. So even in a manual migration process, you’re still not on your own. We’ve got your back. And that said, our support team is available 24/7. And so no matter when you decide to engage in this, they will be on deck to help you out by phone or chat. 

Our team is one of the most decorated support teams in the industry. It’s not just me talking, but it’s been proven time and time again. So don’t hesitate to reach out no matter what time of day or night, they’re going to be on deck to help you out. 

Now if you happen to sign up with WP Engine on a dedicated environment, then you’ll get someone like me. We’ve got an entire team of on-boarding managers, ready and waiting to help you out to make sure that your first 30 days on the platform are fantastic. Our team will make sure that you are familiar with our platform, our features, be on deck to answer any questions, follow up from anything that needs to be followed up on. 

We are here as a sort of concierge to make sure that your experience is great. And just in case all of this sounds good, but you just don’t want to do it. You don’t have the time, you don’t want to be bothered with it, you’ve got more pressing things, we understand. And so that with that in mind, we do provide a team of partners that can help you get your site migrated. 

They know WordPress, they are absolute pros, and they know WP Engine, and doing those migrations for you is not a problem, of course, at a cost. Just to provide an example of a scenario where you might need that additional boost, or that additional bit of help. I can actually speak to an example I’ve had just recently. 

A client joined up with us and had a pretty tough situation, where their current hosts technically had already expired. Their technical guy that did all of this work for them was gone that same day. It was his last day, and they needed to get the site moved over to WP Engine quickly, but they didn’t know how. 

They didn’t know how to access the site’s back end. They weren’t sure about accessing even the platform log in. So they worked with me, and I was able to thankfully get them logged into their platform, and discover where their backup information is located. And we started to look into the manual migration process. But from there, we were able to discover that they were able to get logged in to their WordPress dashboard. 

And again, if you can log into your WordPress dashboard and install a plug-in, then the rest is smooth sailing. Once we got into that WordPress dashboard, walked them through the migration installation and process, and we’ve got both of their sites safe and sound, no longer at risk of being shut down. And they were absolutely thrilled with the process. 

Another scenario, a business owner not knowing how WordPress works, but just knowing that they needed to move their site because they got a notice from their current provider that their deal was expiring, and again, not going to be renewed. And they needed to find something new to host their sign on. So he turned to WP Engine, and working with him again, able to get through the basics, even on a novice level of getting the plugin installed– accessing the dashboard, getting the plugin installed. 

Understanding how to get the data from our User Portal to the plugin, and letting that do the work. And with that in mind, even going live is made easy with us. We’ve got guys on how to move your DNS from a number of platforms to make it easy. We provide a CNAME and IP address options for a record, so no matter what DNS provider you are using, DNS and going live is just as easy as migrating your site. 

So just with all of this in hand, the important thing is to know that WP Engine is not just a service. We’re not just a platform. We are a partner. We are highly invested in your success. 

We are invested in making sure that your experience is a fantastic one. And we have your back no matter what. So with that in mind, welcome home. We want you to feel like this is your home. And this is where you want to stay, and you’ll always have the resources, and you’ll always have the backing that you need to have a successful experience with WP Engine. 

If you have any questions at all. If you’re not sure, you’re not believing the hype, just look at the reviews. Just look at other customer contacts, and by all means, reach out to us and ask the technical questions, ask the non-technical questions, and we’ll be able to answer them for you. We look forward to working with you in the future, and enjoy the rest of DE{CODE}. 

Get started

Build faster, protect your brand, and grow your business with a WordPress platform built to power remarkable online experiences.